We continue to move forward with the racing season with a full slate of on track action this weekend at various tracks all around the country. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series head to the Tricky Triangle known as Pocono. The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to the land of corn to race on the short track at Iowa. Finally, the IZOD IndyCar Series holds another road course event at Mid Ohio.
I am not going too really talk about the racing on the track this in this article, but will mainly focus on what has gone on off the track this week. There have been some rumblings this week about what we saw at the end of the Brickyard 400 last weekend. The concerns do not have anything to do with a bad move on the race track, but with the fact that another race finished with a car winning that was not necessarily the best car on the track all day. The concern is really about fuel mileage. Some fans and drivers are upset that races have been ending with cars making it to the finish line with drops of fuel left in the tank. Some are even calling for some type of rule changes to help eliminate fuel strategy from the races.
Here are my thoughts on this type of talk. My humble opinion is that you do not need to make any adjustments to the racing or rules to eliminate fuel strategy from the races. Racing gives us a number of different emotions throughout the entire race. You can watch your driver go a lap down to lead as the race moves through its acts. One never knows what is going to happen as the race moves on. A caution, a loose lug nut, or a piece of metal from another car can change the entire complexion of what is seen on the track. I am a fan of letting whatever happen on the track and in the pits happen. Whatever strategy you want to use to get there first, that is the strategy you are going to use. Leave the racing alone with what we are seeing on the track.
The next item that has fallen into place this week is where Carl Edwards is going to be racing next year. Edwards has decided to stay put where he is with Roush Fenway Racing. There is a driver in the Cup Series that is sweating a little bit less today that is news has come down. Joey Logano now appears to be safe at Joe Gibbs Racing since Edwards will not being going to the team.
Although it is not a total surprise that Edwards is going to stay at Roush, but we need to focus on Joey for a little bit here. Joey came into the Cup Series a couple of years ago with great hype that he would be the next greatest thing ever seen on the track. In my eyes, Joey has been anything but what he was hyped to be. Joey has won one Cup race in his career. That win came in a rain shortened race at New Hampshire in his rookie season. The question becomes whether or not Joey is consistent enough of a driver to remain in the top NASCAR Series. Joey definitely has talent, but with the Lowe’s Machine having won five straight championships, the folks over at Home Depot cannot be happy with lack of wins and non-consistent performance that is coming from the 20 camp.
Over the last decade we basically saw NASCAR teams make a shift from watching up and coming drivers compete in lower echelon equipment to work their way up to good teams, to throwing the young guns into top notch equipment as quickly as possible. I think we are about to see the age of the young driver jumping directly into the Cup Series as soon as he or she turns 18 come to a close. We all know that sponsorship has become more difficult to come by as well. Sponsors are going to want proven drivers for their investment into motorsports. I would not be surprised to see sponsors become more demanding at the end of this season to have truly top notch drivers in the cars that are carrying their sponsorships.
The final off the track news worth of note is that Nashville Speedway will not host any NASCAR races next year. This opens up two weekends on the schedule for the Nationwide Series and Truck Series next year. The question is going to be where will these races land next year. My hope is that one of these weekends will be negotiated for and brought to Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. It would be great to see that short track end up back on the schedule. There is also talk that another road course may make an appearance on the schedule for one of these weekends as well. I am sure in the coming weeks we will find out where these races will land.
With Nashville being closed, we must also start to think about the races in Dover for the future. Dover owns Nashville and also owned St. Louis. Recall that last year they closed St. Louis and now they are closing Nashville. Is there going to come a point that even having Cup races at Dover will not turn enough of a profit to keep the Monster Mile up and running? This will be a story worth following over the next couple of seasons to see how it plays out.
Oh yeah, it appears all but certain that Danica Patrick will join NASCAR full time next year.
It is now time for the wreck of the week. The incident that caused the red flag Saturday night at Lucas Oil Raceway: